Sunday, 18 September 2011

Hypermiling for Beginners

In an effort to try and reduce the number of times I have to pay 140+p/L to run the golden beast that is Jools the Peugeot, I've been reading about hypermiling. This is where you make a conscious effort to maximise your fuel economy using various techniques. An added bonus is that by saving fuel you're cutting emissions and benefiting the environment!

I must admit that I've not fully embraced all hypermiling techniques; turning off your engine to coast downhill and “drafting” (driving close behind a lorry to reduce air resistance on your car) seem too extreme for me. Some of the methods make a lot of sense when you think about them though:

Don't speed – The Energy Saving Trust stated that 55-65mph is the most efficient speed for any car, with fuel savings of up to 40% when compared to speeds above 70mph. Make sure you stick to the speed limit on dual carriageways/motorways! (And any other roads!)

Idling – Don't leave your car running whilst you wait for it to heat up or waiting for someone to nip into a shop. If you're stopped for more than a minute you'll be wasting fuel.

Maintenance is key – Ensure your engine is kept running smoothly. Use the thinnest recommended oil for your car to reduce friction. Regular services are also recommended and I might just keep this up on my car.

Feeling hot? – Air conditioning in cars can increase fuel usage by 10%. Winding the windows down apparently doesn't have too much of an effect below 40mph, but it will increase drag significantly on the motorway.

Lose weight – My parents keep all sorts of junk in their car. Don't use your boot as a storage unit!

Full tank of fuel? - Similarly to the point above, a full tank of fuel has been shown to be heavy enough to reduce fuel economy.

Tyre pressure – Ensure your tyres are kept at the correct pressure. Deflated tyres will increase drag.

Anticipate the road – Braking and rapid acceleration really reduce fuel efficiency. Rather than driving right behind someone in a queue of traffic, leave yourself a bigger gap and slowly trundle your car along. Don't tear away from traffic lights either! This also makes you a safer road user as you will plan how to adapt to the conditions ahead.

The fuel consumption of my 1.9L diesel engine has been the same as the 1L petrol engine in my old Nissan Micra. Whilst the different fuel probably helped, I believe that my new larger engine would've been more expensive (and polluting) to run without my new frugal driving methods.

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